When it comes to longstanding adaptive franchises, few can compete with the likes of the Resident Evil series. Beginning as a humble fixed camera survival horror in 1996, Capcom’s now flagship IP has evolved a great deal to arrive at its current 3rd person, action focused state. However as a by product of such change, Resident Evil has more than a few miss-steps in its history. This coupled with Resident Evil 6’s commercial and critical underperformance means Capcom has its work cut out in order to push this franchise back to its previous heights.
So it seems to this end Capcom has decided to release a HD version of once 3DS exclusive, Resident Evil Revelations. However with the likes of the critically panned Operation Racoon City still resonating in the minds of fans, will this spin-off really serve to remind us of what made this franchise great? The answer is…sort of.
So let’s get one thing out of the way, this game is by far best experienced in its original form on the 3DS. This is not to say that the HD version is poor, however many of its problems derive from the fact that it clearly was not designed for the hardware on which you are playing it. Having said this, what both the 3DS and HD version do achieve is taking tentative steps in the right direction.
Placing itself between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5, Revelations mainly revolves around the exploits of series originals Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine and their involvement with the recently formed Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (or BSAA for short). The story here is welcomingly typical Resident Evil fare. Packed full of unnecessarily confusing plot devices, bad script and overzealous ideas, Resident Evil fans will feel right at home with the charm that is exuded here. Although few may see this as a weakness of the series, many will feel that these are the charming elements they expect from a series that has never taken itself too seriously.
Despite a more than passable plot by the series’ standards, Revelations’ greatest strengths still lay elsewhere in the game’s design. More than anything else it is some of the game’s locations and ideas that are sure to surprise its fans. The main stage for this tale is the incredibly spooky, derelict cruise liner named the SS Queen Zenobia. This choice of location and its subsequent design is by far Resident Evil Revelations’ stand out feature and creeping round its dark halls while the night storm rages outside is more than a little atmospheric. In fact, I struggle to think of a location in the series that has rivalled the mysterious Umbrella Mansion from the original quite as much as the Queen Zenobia, and the feeling of lost isolation present in the PS1 classic is back in spades here.
Unfortunately Revelations feels the need to cut away from its best asset all too often, seemingly to make way for more action orientated set pieces. These sections, although not particularly bad, feel underdeveloped, uninteresting and unfortunately only serve to leave players waiting to return to the games previous narrative thread. Luckily these parts of the game never last too long and feel more of an annoyance than a game breaker.
The pace of the game itself is relatively slow for the most part, and combat is a much more considered affair than that seen in the likes of Resident Evil 4, 5 or 6. Enemies are stronger but fewer, and in the Zenobia sections especially, ammo can be very sparse. This in turn does give Revelations a welcome feel akin to earlier games in the series that fans are sure to love, and it brings back a genuine survival element that has been missing from the series for some time. Unfortunately these are all elements present and better exploited on the 3DS version, showing that this is as much more of a port than a remake.
Many of Revelations’ other elements however, miss the mark completely in this HD form. The game’s Metroid Prime-esque emphasis on scanning is completely lost here (making it more of a chore than anything else) and its short mission structure is clearly designed for pick up and play value rather than home gaming. In short the gameplay on show here is a real mixed bag. It is clear that the developers did all they could to make this title translate, but the unfortunate reality is that Revelations was not made to be played on non-handheld consoles (or PCs) and this shows through despite Capcom’s best efforts.
This issue is unfortunately also seen in the game’s visuals. Being such a beautiful game on the 3DS has certainly given Revelations the upper hand and many of the new textures and animations look great. However due to the game being ported from a much less powerful machine, some visual issues do unfortunately creep through. Occasional textures and draw distances are poor and landscapes especially can look awful. These issues in no way make you want to stop playing, but they do unfortunately compound the idea that this was more of a rushed port than a remake.
With this in mind, the extra content here is also a little rushed. As well as the HD visuals, this version also includes a new ‘Inferno’ difficulty setting and one extra character for the game’s unlockable Raid Mode, seen after beating the 10 hour campaign. Although better than nothing, one can’t help but feel that Capcom could have given us a little more. However in their defence, Revelations has been launched at a RRP of £29.99, undercutting much of its competition and giving a decent package for the price.
Resident Evil Revelations is not a bad game, it’s just best experienced in its original, portable form. Its HD counterpart still manages to take the same small steps in the right direction for the franchise that the original did, but unfortunately it also suffers from all the same problems, and more. Although a marked improvement on recent additions to the franchise, it is hard to feel like Revelations HD was anything more than quick port to sell copies. This in turn it makes it feel at best a weaker version, and at its worst a missed opportunity for Capcom and its struggling flagship franchise.